Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 11:49am CDT

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Posted by: Va'al   Views: 19,673

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On Monday 19th, Hasbro held its regular earnings conference for its investors, and TheStreet.com took a full transcript of the event, which we've copied below in the parts that interest the Transformers brand. And things do not look amazing, with a decline is sales despite strong earnings; there was also the confirmation of the Paramount universe movies, and a general reassurance that the trend is something that has happened before. Read on below for more information.

Consumer demand for our brands has remained very strong throughout 2015 with many emerging and developed markets including the US, UK and Germany posting double-digit point-of-sale gains this quarter. This demand was evident across categories. In the US and UK, point-of-sale increased double digits in the boys, games, girls and preschool categories. In several countries, point-of-sale also grew in all four categories. Retail inventories are well-positioned to support demand for the holiday season with increases in inventory focused on new initiatives and growing brands. We continued to see strong demand for Hasbro brands. Absent foreign exchange, Hasbro franchise brands increased 4% in the third quarter with Nerf, Play-Doh and Monopoly posting the largest revenue increases. Over the first nine months of the year, franchise brands were up 8% absent FX. Transformers was down given the difficult comparison and Littlest Pet Shop was flat despite growth in the US. The other five franchise brands each reported growth in constant currency in the nine-month period.

Nerf is having another outstanding year with strong innovation driving the core as well as new initiatives including Nerf Modulus and Rival, both off to a strong start. Play-Doh's creative play continues to appeal to global consumers. We celebrated the first-ever world Play-Doh Day on September 16 and we are supporting new fall initiatives including Crazy Cuts and Cupcake Celebration. The growth in these brands helped offset the decline in Transformers. Last year the brand benefited from the Transformers Age of Extinction film. We continue to plan the future of Transformers franchise in all forms of entertainment including movies, television and digital expressions. Transformers Robots in Disguise is airing on Cartoon Network in the US and many international markets and Transformers Rescue Bots is also airing on networks around the world.

[...]

Finally, revenues in the entertainment and licensing segment were down 2% versus 2014. The decline in revenue was primarily driven by lower Transformers revenues in the segment the year after the movie. Operating profit increased to $16.2 million . Intangible amortization was lower as certain digital gaming rights were fully amortized in the second quarter of 2015. In addition, last year operating profit was negatively impacted by the acceleration of certain programming amortization costs. Turning to overall expenses for Hasbro , as anticipated, cost of sales in the third quarter was favorably impacted by product mix. In particular, higher-margin royalty bearing product revenues.

[...]

So first, let's talk about Transformers. Year to date Transformers is actually bucking the trend of a typical boys action property the year following the movie. In fact it is down by just over one-third which as you know is far better than one would expect in a non-movie year and that is because of the amount of entertainment. We are also seeing in our preschool Transformers growth year to date in preschool Transformers, our Transformers Rescue Bots product line and being supported again by content. Our licensing year to date for Transformers is up. So I think maybe we would need to take a broader perspective on the performance of Transformers and look more globally because it is performing quite well in a non-movie year, certainly was down in the quarter and down more typical in the more typical range in the quarter. But again I think the team has done a great job, great innovation, an expanded product line and again down below those trends one would expect.

Credit(s): Hasbro, TheStreet,com


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Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735450)
Posted by Wheeljack808 on October 20th, 2015 @ 12:26pm CDT
Well Hasbro, maybe if you lowered your prices JUST A BIT I might buy more of your stuff. I mean I remember when Voyager class was around the $20 mark now its $30-$35. :BANG_HEAD: And this wasn't a long time ago this was like a year or two ago.

Let the flaming begin! :KREMZEEK:
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735453)
Posted by Optimizzy on October 20th, 2015 @ 12:38pm CDT
Prices change. Things are getting more expensive. They price isnt the problem for me. MY problem is not seeing any of this stuff in stores. The toy shelves are empty and seemingly nothing to replace them. I'd spend the money if I could actually find the item. Maybe sales would be higher if people could get them in the store?
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735456)
Posted by Deathsaurus1 on October 20th, 2015 @ 12:46pm CDT
You know, I liked the idea of combiner wars at first. So I completed Menasor and superion but after hearing that the rest of the line is nothing but retools. With the exception of hot spot and sky lynx (any other new molds) I can't stand just buying retools. I lost interest in the line. No interest in devastator after hearing that scrapper doesn't have elbows.
Toysrus seems to be the only store carrying devastator, but they rose his price up to $179.99. Way outta question for me.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735458)
Posted by Optimizzy on October 20th, 2015 @ 12:54pm CDT
Deathsaurus1 wrote:You know, I liked the idea of combiner wars at first. So I completed Menasor and superion but after hearing that the rest of the line is nothing but retools. With the exception of hot spot and sky lynx (any other new molds) I can't stand just buying retools. I lost interest in the line. No interest in devastator after hearing that scrapper doesn't have elbows.
Toysrus seems to be the only store carrying devastator, but they rose his price up to $179.99. Way outta question for me.


I got the opposite feeling...mostly. I loved CW and got nearly everything they offered. With the exception of Prowl and Bluestreak, I am not interested in wave 4 and 5. I think that was a terrible shame. I really would have liked there to be more random limbs for the decepticons. I mean, we have 3 back to back waves of just autobot limbs. Talk about dull Daniel. Something like the TFCC SS would have been right up my alley had they been released as main line toys instead of expensive exclusives. As they are, I just don't have the money.

If I saw them in the store I would have bought every one of them. I just dont see why they released 2 waves of 84 autobots :( Where the 'con love??
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735464)
Posted by AutobotAlvaron on October 20th, 2015 @ 12:59pm CDT
I'm not so glad Hasbro thinks their lower sales in Transformers is acceptable for a "non-movie" year. It even appears to not concern them much, but it would be unwise to take potential future sales for granted, especially considering the fickle nature of a weakening and changing children's toy market. I suggest that improved distribution of the Transformers toys and TV series, plus a robust ad campaign would help draw attention to their TF characters and build up brand recognition; that would help increase Hasbro's bottom-line. To buy a product, consumers must know about it then like it, then be able to find it.

One problem Hasbro faces is the poor distribution of their products. That has to factor somewhere in their lower revenue lately. Surely it would help their profits if the big-box stores actually stocked their shelves with figures, even between Bay features. For months, local Walmart & Target stores have had only pathetic 18inch vertical strips of shelf space for Transformers, which have been full of empty pegs and lonely shelf-warming RID figures (non-Deluxe). I have yet to even see a CW Ultra Magnus or more than a couple of isolated CW deluxes. Shouldn't Hasbro address that?

One of Transformers main problems, in my opinion, is actually with brand/character exposure, outside of the movies. Most children now do not follow the comic, however cool or popular it is with the older fans, and many have not seen the recent cartoons either. In this era of seemingly universal access to the internet & television (via Dish, Cable, Netflix, Hulu etc.), there are millions of people who still have only basic cable channels or only digital antennae. These people have not been exposed to any Transformers television/cartoon media for years. So, how does that help sell figures?

In the G1 era, most people had only the three main channels (ABC, NBC, CBS), plus the old UHF ones where Transformers debuted locally. This fostered maximum brand-exposure to nearly all children in a way that can no longer be repeated. Back then, everyone could watch the series & the many colorful commercials to be enticed to buy anything from the figures themselves, to Under-roos, and TF paraphernalia was everywhere. Hasbro should really seek to syndicate their series to many outlets online, and on local TV channels to better reach a larger audience. This was a key to their early success and would certainly draw in more viewers and potential buyers for their toys.

Though a confirmed Transformers fan since G1, I do not like or approve of the many cost-cutting and quality-compromising techniques Hasbro (and Takara to a lesser degree) has implemented lately, however I do understand that the current toy-market is changing and perhaps even shrinking. Keeping their products available through increased distribution, and recognizable by syndicating their TV series would go a long way to increasing the popularity and profitability of the Transformers brand.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735467)
Posted by ZeroWolf on October 20th, 2015 @ 1:01pm CDT
The price increase hasn't bothered me too much as I understand that hasbro only exists to profit. I mean we've had some cracking moulds come out of hasbro of late. Combiner Wars as a whole has been great to me, some really fun toys and a gimmick that suits me to a tee. Hopefully titan returns will be just as good :)
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735468)
Posted by Glarryg on October 20th, 2015 @ 1:06pm CDT
AutobotAlvaron wrote:One problem Hasbro faces is the poor distribution of their products. That has to factor somewhere in their lower revenue lately. Surely it would help their profits if the big-box stores actually stocked their shelves with figures, even between Bay features. For months, local Walmart & Target stores have had only pathetic 18inch vertical strips of shelf space for Transformers, which have been full of empty pegs and lonely shelf-warming RID figures (non-Deluxe). I have yet to even see a CW Ultra Magnus or more than a couple of isolated CW deluxes. Shouldn't Hasbro address that?


I second this. Due to the poor showing of CW figures in physical stores, I've ended up relying on online retailers to collect my combiners. For people who are not actively seeking out these toys (but who might buy them if they actually appeared on a shelf), that's lost revenue for Hasbro.

Glarryg
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735470)
Posted by mooncake623 on October 20th, 2015 @ 1:45pm CDT
Optimizzy wrote:Prices change. Things are getting more expensive. They price isnt the problem for me. MY problem is not seeing any of this stuff in stores. The toy shelves are empty and seemingly nothing to replace them. I'd spend the money if I could actually find the item. Maybe sales would be higher if people could get them in the store?


Here is your answer

From the Motley Fool
Investors might have been spooked by the revelation that Hasbro's retailing partners haven't yet committed to fully stocking their stores as we head into the critical holiday shopping quarter. Goldner said in a conference call that orders on several brands are running lower than last year.

That's simply because of retailers' aim to "have product that hits [their inventory] more closely aligned with the holiday season," he said. The supply chain change won't be a problem as long as the shipment orders come through as expected this quarter. But it does add uncertainty to Hasbro's results heading into its most important quarter of the year.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735473)
Posted by ScottyP on October 20th, 2015 @ 1:51pm CDT
Doesn't sound all that bad to me, and in fact, sounds like their shipments are higher than expected for Transformers product. Remember folks, the noted "decline" uses last year, a movie year, as a benchmark for measuring revenue based on how much product retailers have purchased from Hasbro's distributors (more or less, that's an oversimplification because a full explanation probably requires text books.)

Gonna go dig through these numbers, if I can, to see some POS data, as that's more indicative of actual performance of current product sell through to the consumer. (edit: completely unsurprisingly, that's not a thing you can just go out and get. I feel a little dumb for looking now, actually :lol: )
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735481)
Posted by ScottyP on October 20th, 2015 @ 2:31pm CDT
My apologies for the double post but this needs to sit on its own.

Brian Goldner really succinctly explains cost increases in some of the call. This is in response to an analyst question regarding cost outlook into the next year for the Disney Princess brand (I think). Pasted stuff below, which was copied from towards the bottom part of the transcript material on this page:

If you look at -- let's do some product input costs. The single biggest cost input to our cost of goods is labor. And we have continued to see labor inflation rates in the double-digit range. We have seen a slight decrease in the cost of certain types of resins over the period since the end of 2014 but they tend to be more nominal and they run in arrears to whatever the petroleum or gasoline cost prices are out there as you know. But I would say overall we haven't seen any significant surcharges in shifting and getting a bit of pickup there but I wouldn't say there is anything nominal.
I enjoy that the oil pricing argument can finally be put to rest for the time being as a way to complain about the price increases we see on the shelf. That one always felt a bit like a reach given the scale on which these operations are running. The labor cost increase really makes sense, and probably explains why more and more product seems to be shifting to the Vietnam manufacturing side as opposed to China.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735520)
Posted by 1984forever on October 20th, 2015 @ 4:49pm CDT
don't understand why Hasbro would put so much emphasis on combiner wars which has almost no media behind it instead of something like Transformers devastation. little kids are not reading underground comics like IDW transformers for four bucks a pop. and if they did they would be bored to death and then to tears. my son who is 8 plays transformers devastation. yeah Devastator and Menasor are cool, but the figs he really wants are the 5 playable AutobotS as they appear in the game.none of those are currently on store shelves
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735535)
Posted by cruizerdave on October 20th, 2015 @ 6:16pm CDT
Hasbro needs to do two things.
1. Fix the distribution so you can actually get the figures.

I never even tried with Combiner Wars. I knew I'd never be able to pick up a complete set of Stunticons or Arealbots without resorting to paying too much as well as shipping at an online retailer or putting a scalper's kids through college on ebay.
Also, what is up with only having a portion of each combiner in each wave? You could get four fifths of Superion during the first wave, if you count the helicopter guy who's been recolored three times now, which I don't. Or the stupid SUV stand in for the Stunticons. It's like they said, "wow, we've made four out the five of these absolutely beautiful homages, hurry, screw it up on the last limb!"

2. When your end all, be all showcase figure of the year, who looks absolutely awesome in pictures, cost $150-$170 on the shelf, DON'T CUT CORNERS.
Lack of individual weapons, lack of elbows, lack of basic articulation on the crane vehicle mode and some of the cheapest, thinnest plastic I've seen anywhere outside of a knockoff made Devestator a disappointment. I mean four of the six individual figures had less articulation than a deluxe. Hello! HASBRO? Yeah, you're selling this thing on the basis that it's six voyager figures, but that' not true. It's six voyager sized figures that are horribly simplified, especially when compared to the likes of Motormaster. Four of the six either have terrible articulation or it they look horrible if you utilize the articulation they have. Also, a few more paint apps wouldn't have hurt anything.
Plus, Devestator breaks super easy, thanks to the cheap plastic.
Again, it's like they did four fifths of a great job and said, "oh no! This is way too good for our fans, hurry let's cheap out on everything at the last minute to maximize the profits."


Fix those two things, and you guys will sell more toys. Guaranteed.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735548)
Posted by Shockwave7 on October 20th, 2015 @ 8:01pm CDT
I wonder what the 'expectations' were? Because the CW line has been selling pretty well, and even though I'm not collecting them, the RID line seems to be moving pretty good too. I've bought more figures this year because of the CW line than I have for several previous years put together.

My advice to Hasbro would be to keep their expectations realistic, because you can go through your whole life disappointed and furious because things weren't what you 'expected'. I could go into a car dealership and the sales guy could say that Sedan X costs $15,000. Then I could put on a sneering face and sniff, 'Well, that's not the price I was EXPECTING....' My expectations, however, are not going to lower the price of the car. If it costs 15K, then I have to pay 15K, whether or not I was 'expecting' it to only be a nickel.

If Hasbro unrealistically sets their sales expectations, then they're going to grumbling and whining at every one of their little pressers about how sales didn't meet their 'expectations'. As if it was somehow OUR fault that we didn't buy as many toys as they wanted us to buy.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735565)
Posted by Hellscream9999 on October 20th, 2015 @ 9:29pm CDT
Shockwave7 wrote:I wonder what the 'expectations' were? Because the CW line has been selling pretty well, and even though I'm not collecting them, the RID line seems to be moving pretty good too. I've bought more figures this year because of the CW line than I have for several previous years put together.

My advice to Hasbro would be to keep their expectations realistic, because you can go through your whole life disappointed and furious because things weren't what you 'expected'. I could go into a car dealership and the sales guy could say that Sedan X costs $15,000. Then I could put on a sneering face and sniff, 'Well, that's not the price I was EXPECTING....' My expectations, however, are not going to lower the price of the car. If it costs 15K, then I have to pay 15K, whether or not I was 'expecting' it to only be a nickel.

If Hasbro unrealistically sets their sales expectations, then they're going to grumbling and whining at every one of their little pressers about how sales didn't meet their 'expectations'. As if it was somehow OUR fault that we didn't buy as many toys as they wanted us to buy.


I think they could meet their expectations, if they could work out the issues with distribution; because they sell really well when the stores near me get them in stock - the combining figures at least. But you should totally check out the megatronus figure, he's just a really nice, solid tank-former ;)^
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735575)
Posted by SkyWarpt on October 20th, 2015 @ 10:00pm CDT
You can't sell an empty shelf :roll:
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735576)
Posted by Hellscream9999 on October 20th, 2015 @ 10:12pm CDT
SkyWarpt wrote:You can't sell an empty shelf :roll:


EXACTLY (if I am indeed interpreting this correctly)

Distribution problems have plagued us - and by default hasbro - for YEARS, but we keep rationalizing it, or saying it's complex, or making excuses; well, I don't see any other brand suffering empty shelf syndrome like tf's do - why? because companies want their products out there to be sold - it's high time someone got the kinks out of this supply chain.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735613)
Posted by Megatron Wolf on October 21st, 2015 @ 1:38am CDT
Well maybe if you lowered prices so they weren't so high and made sure stuff hit shelves people would buy your products. Not loading shelves with repaints would help as well, nothing like seeing 3 of the same mold on the shelves. Ive seen pictures of an entire peg consisting of only prowl, streetwise & deadend. Also figure out a way to combat scalpers,they're not helping things. Show your costumers that you care about them and see just how much money they throw at you, i know id buy more if i could find what i want & not have to drain my bank account to do so.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735640)
Posted by SkyWarpt on October 21st, 2015 @ 8:00am CDT
You know what I used to love when they did it? They still do for ninja turtles, used to for GI Joe, Star Wars and He-man. Remember when they would advertise the entire figure line on the card back? Any figure that they weren't ready to announce would be shrouded on black. I remember trying to hunt down Amanaman from the Star Wars line...never found him in any store, but at least I knew it existed...Same with Luke and Han in Stormtrooper gear. They also had like a full year window...it boggles my mind that today's market gets a release day Aaaand they're gone...off to eBay we go.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735643)
Posted by wolverinetodd on October 21st, 2015 @ 8:06am CDT
Everyone here that said something about "distribution," I totally agree with you.

The few retail stores here in my area that I shop, the pegs for the Deluxe Combiner Wars figures have been empty about 50% of the time. But the biggest problem I've run into is the total lack of the Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures. The times I've been in these stores I've only seen Wave 1 (Optimus and Silverbolt). If Wave 2 was ever received, the Motormaster in the bunch was the first figure to get bought as I never saw it on the shelf once.

So with that in mind, if I'm a young consumer, I'm excited to think that I could get four Deluxe Class figures and combine them with a Voyager figure to make one big robot toy. But my attitude is going to turn to sour grapes if all I'm able to find in the retail stores are the limbs for this big robot toy. Sure, there's great play value in the Deluxe Combiner Wars Toys as they are, but that'll get dull quick if I can't find a Voyager Class Silverbolt, Motormaster, or a Hot Spot to combine them all together.

So, yeah, distribution of the line is a major factor that truly needs to be addressed. Probably why I keep ordering my Combiner Wars figures online through Hasbro Toy Shop.

And I agree with you if you said promotion is a problem too.

My biggest beef here starts back with the Prime line. Hasbro introduced a new Transformers series (surely promising a toyline to follow) on The Hub, their own cable channel. Not everyone had The Hub. In fact I had to upgrade my cable just to get it. Not everyone can do that or even afford anything more than basic cable. So in my opinion, Hasbro severely limited itself in reaching consumers with their advertisement by making Transformers Prime viewable to only a small cable viewing audience.

Since then Hasbro sold The Hub. Well duh!

Now they have a new cartoon and I was happy to see that Cartoon Network would be carrying it.

And apparently Hasbro pissed in Cartoon Network's cereal or something because I remember the first two episodes premiering on a Saturday afternoon, a month or so before the show was to fall into a routine schedule on Cartoon Network. It was a month after RID had been aired before I learned that it was on at 0630 AM on Saturday mornings. WTF?!?!?!

Sure, back in the 80's we got up before 0600 AM on Saturday mornings to watch Transformers and GIJoe, but kids today aren't going to do that. Adults today aren't going to do that as we've been getting up so damn early Monday through Friday. Saturday is our "sleep late" day.

Of course the Transformers cartoon of the 80's was more exciting and worth getting up early for on Saturday mornings. Whereas today's RID... not so much.

So bottomline, DISTRIBUTION and PROMOTION are key areas Hasbro needs to work on.
Re: Hasbro Earnings Conference - Transformers Sales Lower But Expected (1735650)
Posted by ZeroWolf on October 21st, 2015 @ 9:03am CDT
On the promotional side, yes they need to organise themselves a bit better, however RID being moved to a different time slot however isn't hasbro fault but CN, as it's been shown in the past that they will dump shows they don't like in a quiet place to die...Remember Green Lantern and Young Justice?

I wonder how well tfs are faring with there target audience.

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